Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Essential Skills Advantage : Complete Home Learning Suite Review

Recently we got the opportunity to review a very awesome online education program called Essential Skills Advantage and their Complete Home Learning Suite.
Essential Skills Advantage Review
Even though people hear "homeschool" and think that we school at home, all the time, that's not the case. We are on the road a lot with different appointments, field trips, errands and classes outside of the home. Having a program that we can take with us on the go is great as we have days that we need to work on school and skills, but maybe do them differently than normal bookwork. That's where this awesome new program comes in!

Essential Skills Advantage Review

What we received:
We received access for a yearly online subscription to their Complete Home Learning Suite. That means it includes subjects such as Geography, Math, Science, English and so much more! Essential Skills Advantage, or ESA for short, is an online curriculum program that is geared towards grades K-6th. We are on the cusp of going into 5th grade so this was a good fit for us. Boo Bear liked being able to choose a variety of programs to work on and I liked that it goes with us.

We took this with us to the allergy doctor, on trips to the store, etc. and worked on it at home. We used several of the different programs throughout the review period so we could get a good feel for what they offer.
Essential Skills Advantage Review
We worked through some of the Earth Science, math concepts, geography and creative writing. Boo Bear worked on areas of math that he is having a more difficult time in and that we are currently working on. He did them in both grades 5 and in grades 4 so he was super excited that he was able to work on 5th grade math already!

How we used it:
As I mentioned above we took this on the road with us for most cases. We did do some of the work at home on the computer, but for the most part it was on a cellphone or tablet. I love that we can sign in from anywhere and he can work on skills while we're on the go.

The program offers easy access for Mom or Dad to check out the progress of your child. You can get reports such as the one below showing how far they have progressed and what skills they've been working on. You can also go in farther and see how they did on each unit, how many times they tried to work on it, the amount of time spent and when their last try at the information was.

The curriculum itself is self-paced so your child can move as fast or as slow as they need to go. There are a variety of concepts offered and the subjects vary in grade range. For example, the Earth Science we worked on only went up to 3rd grade so it was a good review for Boo Bear to work on. We worked on some of the Geography where it reviewed the capitals of the states. We learned those a year or so ago so it's always good to go back and review. I honestly can't remember them all myself so it works for me too!

You can have one, two or as many as you need students under your one class. You sign in under your account and can add your students to have each one working on different areas. You can print out report cards for your children to keep as a record for yourself, make certificates of completion for them to enjoy or just keep everything online for your at-a-glance needs.

What we thought:
For me, I enjoyed having everything easily accessible for when I needed it. I printed out certificates and report cards just for my records to go along with his records for this year. Boo Bear enjoyed the different varieties of activities available. His favorites were probably the science as he's a huge science buff.

I liked that fact, also, that it goes with us wherever we are. As long as we have access to the Internet, we can work on items that he needs to work on. I could also have him working on skills our regular math curriculum has him doing as well. This was a great way for us to supplement that curriculum and to keep moving forward with our tasks even when we were not at home.

Essential Skills Advantage is a great online curriculum to help supplement what your students are learning, to help them move at their own pace, and to help them succeed in skills that maybe they are struggling with. We really enjoyed this online curriculum option and are going to continue using it throughout the rest of the school year.

You can check out what other Crew members thought by clicking the banner below. You can also check out ESA online with their social media links:

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Blog for ESA

Essential Skills Advantage Review

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Menu Planning and Recap

Welcome back! Grab your GGMS (Good Girl Moonshine) or coffee and sit for awhile! I wanted to come by and give you a weekly update on how our menus went last week and also share what this week looks like as well. We are trying all sorts of new things around here and some work, while others, not so much. ;-) But, I want to be real with you so we will share the good and the not so fabulous. Sound good to you?

Okay, so first for the recap of last week. I feel like we stuck pretty well to our menu plan. There were a few things we changed up but that's the beauty of food freedom, and having a plan in the first place. You can find our menu plan for last week by clicking here.

As for the things that worked well, the buffalo blue chicken wedge salad we shared last week was a hit. My hubby and I both loved it and it's on the menu for this weekend again. Our lunches were pretty much what I had on the menu last week.

Dinners - I make a plan and sometimes we stick to it and others we change it up. For this week we did the slow chicken fajitas and they were very delicious! Everybody loved those. We also had the grilled items and so we had leftovers for a day as well. Because I did the chicken fajitias I didn't quite have everything I needed for the Cowboy Grub so I'm still working on that one. Also I switched it up since we had chicken once already and did the Swiss Meatballs in the new THM Cookbook. They were very good. We also tried the Princess Taters (hint they aren't taters.) and those were not such a hit here. Not that they weren't good but I found I prefer cauliflower as a substitute for taters and not radishes. At least not in mashed form.

Breakfasts we stayed pretty much on plan, with the exception of trying a new recipe yesterday. Oh my!!! Cinnamon rolls are something I have thoroughly missed. Yes I have eaten them here or there over the years and I  have paid for it afterwards. But not anymore!!! Briana Thomas shared her cinnamon roll recipe on her blog and we tried it out. F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!!

I no longer have to sit on the sidelines and miss my favorite!! I'm so thankful I tried this one out. Don't let it scare you. This is very similar to a fathead pizza dough if you've ever tried that one. It's very delicious and worth it!!!

I also found some other favorites this week:
  • All day sippers - slushies. I love the GGMS but I have fallen in love with these slushies in the book!
I'm really loving all the energy and clarity I'm feeling as well. When I tell you before that I had to not work in the afternoon, I mean it. After work in the morning, homeschooling, and lunch... I was done. I have been able to do some work in the afternoons, go all day without a nap and go for later evening walks with my kiddo. That alone is worth every second I spend planning, checking labels and making sure I sort things out so they are easy to do.

So, enough chit-chat.. Here's what you came for! The bones of the menu plan for this week!

  • Heaven on a plate (affectionately named by my kiddo) - S
  • Cheeseburger Pie from the new cookbook - S
  • Chicken Alfredo - S from cookbook
  • Grilled items over the weekend ( my hubby loves to grill and I love to let him)
  • Roast - S
  • Leftovers
  • E-Sandwiches with plan approved bread
  • Salads
  • Wraps - Pizzas (I think my son could eat pizza everyday and sometimes, he does. But that's okay when we do it the THM way)
  • Cinnamon rolls - S
  • Bacon and eggs and GGMS
  • Mufflettes from the new cookbook

So that's what our week looked like and what our upcoming one will, Lord willing. Hope you have a blessed week ahead!!!

**If you're interested in learning more about Trim Healthy Mama, click here. **

Monday, May 23, 2016

Science Shepherd : Introductory Science Review

Science Shepherd Review
We love science here in our house. That's our favorite, FAVORITE subject. Recently we were blessed with the opportunity to review a science program from Science Shepherd called Introductory Science. This program combines online videos and lessons with a workbook that we received to do a full program science curriculum for the younger elementary age. This works best with ages 6-11 and you can work at your own pace.

Science Shepherd Review
What we received:
We received the Level B physical workbook for the videos and a year long access to the online program videos. I chose Level B because it's for the older kids on the end of the grade range. Boo Bear is 10 so this one fit him perfectly.

How we used it:
The program consists of daily video lessons that are short and goes along with a page in the workbook to help make sure your child understood the concepts of the lesson. The lessons are fairly short, just a few minutes, and they are scheduled for one daily with the workbook concepts. Most weeks have five daily videos but some have extras where you can do experiments on the lessons that you're learning.

The program is set up to be a full curriculum for homeschool science. It covers concepts such as meteorology, Earth Science, physical science concepts and even life science. We have learned about weather, seasons, temperature and precipitation.

There are a variety of activities in the book to help your child remember the concepts covered. Those include items such as crossword puzzles, multiple choice questions, and experiments or activities covering the lessons learned.

We also went over the scientific method which is a key of any science experiment. You have to know the process to get your answers to the most intriguing science questions.

One of my favorite things about this online homeschool science is that God is woven in throughout the program. It starts off with creation videos and talks about how God was the greatest scientist there ever was. I love a program that can keep God intertwined like that. My son has asked those deep questions of how you can be a scientist and still believe in God and these type of studies help him to understand that everyday. It's important to me as his mom to provide those answers to him. We are thankful to have people surrounding us that can help show him that in everyday life, but having a science curriculum reiterate it is amazing!

What we thought:
We both enjoy this video science curriculum. Boo Bear can watch the videos on his laptop and then work on the workbook. I go over the answers with him and we can choose to dig deeper if he is enjoying the topic or move on to the next one. I love that he can move at his own pace with this program. While the program is set to be a full 36-week curriculum, he can move faster or slower if he chooses. I also love that it is a full science curriculum covering a variety of topics. I am planning on using this throughout the summer to the end so that we can make sure we do not have gaps in our science learning. (Boo Bear knows more about animals than anyone I've ever met but there's more to science than animals :))

We really enjoyed working with this program and that it's an easy lesson to do each day. We can do one lesson or four if he chooses. That seems to be the only problem we had ;-). He wanted to watch all the videos at once!!

I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a Christ based online homeschool science program. You are sure to love the videos, questions to work with and the fun experiments along the way.

Check out the link below to see what other options are available and how the Crew used this homeschool science. Also check out Science Shepherd out on social media with the links below.

Science Shepherd Review

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Menu Plan: May 22nd-28th

Happy Sunday to ya! Just wanted to give you a recap of the past week's meals and share the new plan for this week. Thankfully I can say we are "on plan" most of our meals. Boo Bear does have a few crossovers and off plan items but that's because he's a growing kid. With him, I'm trying to teach him healthy eating and to make good choices. For me, I'm seeing some changes in myself but trying not to focus on numbers on the scale right now. I know it takes time to heal what I've done and being a diabetic with a thyroid condition, my numbers will be slow to move. BUT... I do have some NSV(non-scale victories) I'll share.
  • My blood sugar numbers are staying very strong and steady. They are holding where they should be and meals do not have a negative impact.
  • I have felt better the past week or two than I have in a while. I'm noticing way more energy. I was able to rearrange/organize our pantry this week, organize Boo Bear's MASSIVE LEGO pile, and help him get his room cleaned up. I have also been able to work in the afternoons. Do you understand what that means? Work in the afternoon is nearly impossible for me because of my brain fog that sets in. I've been able to stay up and feel good all day long!
  • I can see shrinkage in my waist. We all know we have those tell tale signs for when you're bloated etc. (just getting real folks). Well those are shrinking :)
Recap of the Weeks Meals
So you can take a look at what our week's meal plan looked like last week by clicking here. Due to some work related events with  my hubby, we didn't quite have the same meals I had planned so some of them will be on this week's plan.

I tried a few new recipes this week and they were all winners! This one was one of my favorites and is on the menu again for this coming up week .:)

Buffalo Chicken Blue-cheese Wedge Salad from Peace, Love, and Low-carb

I also tried the Trimtastic Cake from the THM cookbook, a few different shake flavors, and everything was a hit!

Meal Plan for this Week:

Meal planning necessities

So here's this week's plan. I do them in groups of dinners, lunches, breakfasts so that I can pick and choose whatever we feel like for the day.

Breakfast -
Bacon and Eggs - S
THM Pancakes from new cookbook _ E
Muffin in a Mug - S
(a lot of days we have bacon and eggs but I try to vary them. I may make some muffins this week and will keep you posted)

Buffalo Chicken Wedge Salad from Peace Love and Low Carb - S
Turkey and cheese wraps with low carb wrap _ S
Pizza on Lavash - S
Salad in Jar - S

Roast in the CP with veggies - S
Chicken Alfredo from Cookbook - S
Burgers and Hot dogs on the grill with salad - S
Cowboy Grub - E
Slow Fajitas - S (THM crockpot recipe)
Chicken Tenders - with rice - E

I try to vary but you'll notice a lot of S type meals. Being a diabetic the E's can give me some higher numbers but I'm in the process of learning to do those meals with a slightly lowered amount of carbs to be kinder to my sugar. I'll keep you posted on that as well.

So how did your week look?

**Unsure what E and S meals are? Check out the Trim Healthy Mama Plan by clicking the link. **

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Meal Plans: Week of May 16th - 20th

So things are changing around here some what. I'm trying to get ALL my family on a healthier eating plan. Some of us to lose weight, others of us to just keep growing and learn to make healthy choices to hopefully prevent future problems.

That means that there will be more recipe sharing, more posting on meal plans, and a lot of Trim Healthy Mama talk around here. (Or trim healthy man, boo bear, you get the idea) I've toyed around with this plan before and felt much better and saw great numbers for my blood glucose. I'd get tired and frustrated and just say forget it. This time, something is different. We are doing this together and I'm so excited. We've been working on it for about a week or two now together, me and Boo Bear, and while the scale isn't so much moving, I am feeling some great results. Sugars are going down and Boo Bear is making some amazing choices himself. All by himself!!

So what I would like to do is start posting on Monday (or sometimes Wednesday) our weekly meal plan. I also "plan" to follow up how we did this week on Fridays. Maybe it will be a double post on Monday with the follow up and the meal plan. Not sure yet on how I want that to run. That's part of the blogging process, right?

So here is this week's meal plan. If you're not sure what Trim Healthy Mama is you can check out the site by clicking here.

E - THM Pancakes
S- Bacon and eggs/ sausage and eggs with cheese
S- Cinnamon Muffin in a mug ( new THM Cookbook)
E- Chocolate Waffles

S- salad
S- Pizza on Joseph's lavash
S- Loaded Fotato Soup
S- Leftovers

S Sloppy Joes
E- Cowboy Hash
S- Chicken Alfredo
S- Roast with Veggies

Shakes or lemon cake from cookbook

There are lots of great ideas on Pinterest if you're interested in new recipes. I'm also going to focus on trying to make meals on a budget so that you can see it can be done. I love the new cookbook and how they've broken up the plan from the recipes. If you haven't checked it out yet, you definitely should!

So do you find meal planning helps you save money, spend more, or about the same?

Memoria Press: D'Aulaires' Greek Myths Review

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review
We love Memoria Press and always have enjoyed their classical education products. So we were extra excited when we were selected to review the D'Aulaires' Greek Myths set this time. We are also fans of a popular series for young readers on the Greek gods so this fit in right along with the other books we have been listening to.

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

What we received:
We received the Greek Myths book, study guide and teachers guide, along with flashcards that go along with the books. The student guide offers questions, vocabulary words, activities and more for you to work through while you're reading the book. The teachers guide of course provides the answers and teaching tips on how you can progress through the series itself. The flashcards are great on the go to review what you've studied so far in the book.

How we used it:
The set is typically recommended for 3rd through 6th graders but can be tweaked for older students as well. For us, we are in 4th/5th grade so this worked perfectly. Our day would consist of Boo Bear reading through a story of one of the Greek gods and then we'd work on the questions together. He's a typical boy and would prefer oral answers over writing them, so we do a little of both.

The flashcards go along with each story you read so we would work on them a couple times a week. They helped us to remember the stories and facts we'd already read while moving along through the book.

Each part of the student guide helps to reiterate what was read. There's the facts to know section that helps you remember the keys of that particular god's story. Items such as the names used for Father Sky and Mother Earth, the islands where they lived or key events that took place in that Greek god's tale.

There's also the vocabulary section of the chapter that goes over the more difficult words you have covered in that particular story. There's review lessons throughout as well to help make sure that the stories you read are sticking with you. (that's where the flashcards come in handy).

You'll also find map pages in the student guide and drawing pages for your child to use their creativity throughout the sections. You'll find a variety of god's mentioned such as Zeus, Aphrodite, Theseus, and even King Midas.

What we thought:
Honestly, we really enjoyed this particular study. We are still working through it and are loving the facts and experiences we are reading about. As I mentioned before there's a popular series of books we like to listen to that talk about the Greek god's and this goes along well with that book series. It helps us to get more facts and learn about each of the different god's we hear mentioned throughout that series. You can tie these two together for a great literature study if you wish.

Boo Bear enjoyed this particular literature set just as much as I did. It helps to have something fun and exciting to read and the artwork is amazing in the book. I would highly recommend this if you're looking for a fun literature supplement study for your school year. You can pursue lots of avenues with it studying the different people each on their own, finding ones your children are interested in and comparing them to people you meet each day. There's really a lot of different ways you can take this great Memoria Press curriculum on your school journey.

Memoria Press offers a variety of different options for literature, Latin, American studies, and more for your classical homeschool. I highly recommend you check them out on social media below or click the banner to see what other options that the Crew were able to use.

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thankful Thursday

720. I'm thankful for the amazing gift of motherhood.

721. I'm thankful that 10 years ago this bundle of joy, blessings, and amazement came into our lives to forever change it

722. I'm thankful that even though it was and still is scary to be parents, we wouldn't have it any other way.

723. I'm thankful for the great parents in our lives that are there to give advice, listen to our craziness, and be a shoulder to cry on

724. I'm thankful for amazing friends that go through thick and thin no matter what

725. I'm thankful that God is our Father and helps guide us through this thing called life

726. I'm thankful for the tears, the laughter, the worry, the prayers said, all of it that comes with being called Mom

727. I'm thankful that every day is a new day with God's mercy right there waiting

728. I'm thankful to be surrounded by amazing people who encourage and lift you up when you're down in the dumps

729. I'm thankful for my home, my family, and my best doggy friend.

What are you thankful for this week?